Former Apple retail head Angela Ahrendts upset 'finely tuned balance'

245

Comments

  • Reply 21 of 89
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,631member
    My experiences have not been bad in NYC where you would think it would be worse because most of the stores are far more crowded all of the time and it's (reportedly) very low pay compared to what it costs to live here.   You would think anyone with knowledge would be working for a tech firm instead for much better pay.   My son-in-law does independent Mac support work and makes probably 10x what Apple pays in retail. 

    On the upside:  when they still had a Genius Bar, brought in my late 2008 MBP with an appointment about midnight on a Sunday night, which had a bad optical drive.   The Genius immediately recognized that I knew what I was doing and said so, took it back under warranty repair, but said it might take 2-3 days.   When I woke up Monday morning, I already had a text message that the machine was ready for pickup.   

    More recently:  The screen died on my late 2017 MBP under warranty.   Made an appointment.   Registered with the headset guy in a very, very crowded store and he told me to see him again in 20 minutes after my scheduled time.   He had me sit at one of the parsons tables and a "genius" came out to look at the machine.   Said it would take an hour to fix.   I came back in an hour and it wasn't finished yet.   It wound up taking about 90 minutes.   Now while all that took longer than they originally said, I don't really consider that a bad experience and the fact that there was no physical Genius Bar didn't really make any difference.   No one tried to sell me anything.

    I'm in Apple stores relatively often and I've never gotten the feeling that they're "pushing sales".    There's someone who asks if you need help (as there should be), but if you say "no", they leave you alone.   But I do agree that the staff doesn't know as much as they should.   One staffer didn't know whether Home Pod supported stereo yet and I remember asking other questions over the last few years that no one could answer, even about Apple's own apps.   When they first got rid of the checkout desks, I was a bit surprised, but that hasn't been a problem either.  When I've bought iPhones, they bring it out to you, take your credit card at that spot and you're done.   No big deal.     

    My biggest problems with the Apple stores are the fact that in spite of the supposedly beautiful design (although are parsons tables and concrete floors really that great?), the architecture is all hard surfaces and as a result, the noise levels in the stores are incredibly high.   I remember when Siri was first released, I couldn't get it to work in the noisy environment.   I once thought there was a live band in the lower level of the Lincoln Center (NYC) store and it turned out to be a Bluetooth speaker system.   The other problem is that in NYC, the stores are overwhelmed with tourists and others who go there to use the machines and will spend hours doing email or browsing the web.   A bit surprising in an age when everyone walks around with a phone or Pad, but I bet a lot of the foreign tourists don't get a data plan when they visit here, so they use the stores. 

    Apple's Fifth Avenue store has been closed for what seems like far longer than a year.   That's the basement store that's being expanded.  But one has to wonder what the problem is.   It will be interesting to see whether that store design changes much.   They're still in the temporary store that used to be FAO Schwartz.   That store is always ridiculously crowded.   
  • Reply 22 of 89
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,196member
    doctwelve said:
    Made an appointment, having to choose the "least inconvenient" time for me that was available. Waited for my genius. Someone walked in and asked to see a genius and was seen to before me. While waiting, I saw a younger "genius" lose their patience with an older woman who had an iPhone issue and didn't understand the fix. The genius said, "I explained it already, I am done with you..." and walked away. Not the Apple I love. 
    If true, that is behavior worthy of termination.  If I were a supervisor I’d have a conversation with that employee and explain it as such.  The employee would be given one warning.  A second time and they’re gone.

    I would also reach out to the elderly customer, apologize profusely and do whatever it took to make amends.  That kind of reputation can kill the brand.
  • Reply 23 of 89
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,006member
    sflocal said:
    Every company has disgruntled employees. But not every company is Apple where employees can snitch to Mark Gurman and get a write up in Bloomberg. The biggest complaint about Apple stores seems to be that they’re too crowded. But if Jason Snell is right the new person heading retail is tasked with pushing sales. That might have been one reason Angela left.
    I think Angela left due to ego.  She was vested, and being an ex-CEO, she probably wanted to be back in the top chair again.  Can't blame her.

    I'm still in a holding pattern with how she handled the retail remodeling.  In my personal experience here in San Francisco, it's not better or worse.  Just different.

    I am going in tomorrow to have my iPhoneX repaired/replaced.  It's been a while since I ever needed any kind of Apple service so I'm curious to see how it is.
    I find it curious that she left shorty after the decision was made last fall to push iPhone sales in store. Maybe the timing was just a coincidence but I do wonder. I doubt she created Today at Apple as a vehicle to push iPhone sales. Recently I was at an Apple store to have a cracked iPhone display replaced. I just did a walk-in. It took maybe 15 minutes to get checked in and been seen by a store employee. They told me to come back in an hour to pick up my phone. It was a very slick process especially considering I was just a walk-in. Seems to me the complaints are mostly around stores being too busy. I’m not sure how much can be done about that outside of building more stores.
    That too.... I remembered her being there for five years, then revealing her departure.  That could have been coincidence too.  

    I too read quite a bit about the stores being busy, possible contributing to a detriment to the experience.  I take that with a grain of salt because I vividly remember pre-Angela that the Apple stores were crazy packed as well.  The stores are bigger, and more spacious and they are still the hub of activity.  I suppose it's a problem that any retail store would love to have.

    I do visit the stores often to purchase something and yes, my store (San Francisco Flagship) is busy most times but I never felt slowed down by it or claustrophobic about it except maybe during the the Christmas holidays which is understandable.  Unless they immediately approach me, I never had to really look for a clear-uniformed sales staff.  I'm not sure if that's just the stores in my area, but I don't see the kind of complaints that people talk about here.

    I will say one thing though... I did have a potentially negative experience once with a sales staff a few years ago.  I was buying an iMac for my mom and I I knew what I wanted.  The sales assistant - a very nice, young fellow - came over and explained the models which I did not need, but during the conversation, gave me totally wrong information.  He didn't know that the 27" iMac had expandable memory.  He assumed it was the same as the smaller iMac which has soldered RAM.  That subject only came up with I asked for the 8GB model so I can upgrade the RAM after purchase.  He was up front and honest about his mistake, stating that he just started there a few weeks prior so wasn't caught up to speed with everything.  I doubt he was trying to upsell me a higher model with more expensive RAM.  That was my only odd experience.  I knew my iMac stuff, another customer now knowing better might have been too trusting.
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 24 of 89
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,073member
    AA was brought in to turn Apple into a Consumer/fashion store to generate higher profits.   This was probably what Jony and Tim wanted.   she shouldn’t be blamed for that.   Likewise I’m sure Tim and the CFO didn’t have any problem justifying spending less on Training.  Better QA coming out of Cupertino probably would have helped the store experience more than anything as they had to deal with battery and keyboard issues the last few years.  This whole story reeks of people in the HomeOffice looking for a fall guy for bad financials - blame the lady who left instead of Tim and his gang.
  • Reply 25 of 89
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,006member
    JWSC said:
    doctwelve said:
    Made an appointment, having to choose the "least inconvenient" time for me that was available. Waited for my genius. Someone walked in and asked to see a genius and was seen to before me. While waiting, I saw a younger "genius" lose their patience with an older woman who had an iPhone issue and didn't understand the fix. The genius said, "I explained it already, I am done with you..." and walked away. Not the Apple I love. 
    If true, that is behavior worthy of termination.  If I were a supervisor I’d have a conversation with that employee and explain it as such.  The employee would be given one warning.  A second time and they’re gone.

    I would also reach out to the elderly customer, apologize profusely and do whatever it took to make amends.  That kind of reputation can kill the brand.
    I agree.  If I saw that behavior - even on someone else - I'd say something.  Poor customer.  I've dealt with high-maintenance customers in my experience and there are better ways to discuss this. 

    While the genius' behavior was inexcusable, there may have been another reason for cutting the conversation short.  I have a cousin that used to work for Apple and they have a very strict policy against spending too much time on one customer.  I don't recall the exact time limit but it was something like 6-15 minutes max.  It wasn't very much.  Go over that limit, and the potential for being fired becomes real.  My cousin always spent that extra few minutes to help customers and make sure they left happy and serviced, but Apple saw it differently and let him go.  It was quite sad as he is gifted technically and is very good at talking to people and having the patience and calmness to work with older/elder individuals.  He pointed out that others that finished on time, or ahead of time generally didn't get the job done or was incomplete.  They simply ended the support knowing the customer wasn't fully satisfied, yet they never got penalized for that.  At that point, I knew something about Apple has changed, and it wasn't good.


    edited May 2019
  • Reply 26 of 89
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    sflocal said:
    Every company has disgruntled employees. But not every company is Apple where employees can snitch to Mark Gurman and get a write up in Bloomberg. The biggest complaint about Apple stores seems to be that they’re too crowded. But if Jason Snell is right the new person heading retail is tasked with pushing sales. That might have been one reason Angela left.
    I think Angela left due to ego.  She was vested, and being an ex-CEO, she probably wanted to be back in the top chair again.  Can't blame her.

    I'm still in a holding pattern with how she handled the retail remodeling.  In my personal experience here in San Francisco, it's not better or worse.  Just different.

    I am going in tomorrow to have my iPhoneX repaired/replaced.  It's been a while since I ever needed any kind of Apple service so I'm curious to see how it is.
    I find it curious that she left shorty after the decision was made last fall to push iPhone sales in store. Maybe the timing was just a coincidence but I do wonder. I doubt she created Today at Apple as a vehicle to push iPhone sales. Recently I was at an Apple store to have a cracked iPhone display replaced. I just did a walk-in. It took maybe 15 minutes to get checked in and been seen by a store employee. They told me to come back in an hour to pick up my phone. It was a very slick process especially considering I was just a walk-in. Seems to me the complaints are mostly around stores being too busy. I’m not sure how much can be done about that outside of building more stores.
    Today at Apple, along with integrating the online store with in-store pickup, is one of the best things she implemented. Teaching people how to get the most out of the Apple devices that they bought is a great example of intersection of technology & liberal arts.
  • Reply 27 of 89
    big kcbig kc Posts: 137member
    She needs to lose those glasses. This trend of women wearing men's glasses, or that closely resemble them, can work quite well on younger women. At her age - not so much. I echo what others have said - I've seen the decline in the store experience too. They had a great formula and screwed it up, for the sake of tinkering. They could probably do better than AA at 1/50th of the ridiculous salary she was earning.
    macplusplus
  • Reply 28 of 89
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    Fatman said:
    Paid her way too much.The experience needs to be a combination of the brand, learning, sales and service. I don't know the ideal design/mix/solution, but that is why they need an expert to figure it out - she wasn't that person.
    All the top level executives are paid to much, at most big corporations. There’s no reason why a CEO or VP should be paid 300 times more than that corporation’s average employee.
  • Reply 29 of 89
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    I’m not sure an HR head is the right person for the job. Two jobs instead of one, plus very different jobs, plus HR sucks at people (since they tend to treat people like a commodity)...
  • Reply 30 of 89
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,196member
    sflocal said:
    JWSC said:
    doctwelve said:
    Made an appointment, having to choose the "least inconvenient" time for me that was available. Waited for my genius. Someone walked in and asked to see a genius and was seen to before me. While waiting, I saw a younger "genius" lose their patience with an older woman who had an iPhone issue and didn't understand the fix. The genius said, "I explained it already, I am done with you..." and walked away. Not the Apple I love. 
    If true, that is behavior worthy of termination.  If I were a supervisor I’d have a conversation with that employee and explain it as such.  The employee would be given one warning.  A second time and they’re gone.

    I would also reach out to the elderly customer, apologize profusely and do whatever it took to make amends.  That kind of reputation can kill the brand.
    I agree.  If I saw that behavior - even on someone else - I'd say something.  Poor customer.  I've dealt with high-maintenance customers in my experience and there are better ways to discuss this. 

    While the genius' behavior was inexcusable, there may have been another reason for cutting the conversation short.  I have a cousin that used to work for Apple and they have a very strict policy against spending too much time on one customer.  I don't recall the exact time limit but it was something like 6-15 minutes max.  Go over that limit, and the potential for being fired becomes real.  My cousin always spent that extra few minutes to help customers and make sure they left happy and serviced, but Apple saw it differently and let him go.  It was quite sad as he is gifted technically and is very good at talking to people and having the patience and calmness to work with older/elder individuals.  At that point I knew something about Apple has changed, and it wasn't good.

    Did that happen under John Browett?  I’m guessing not because he was there for a short time only.  But just it doesn’t seem like a good thing.  Got to be a better way to handle a lot of customers because there’s only going to be more and more coming in.
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 31 of 89
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 160member
    Former Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts upset a "finely tuned balance" at the company's stores in the name of branding, a report suggested on Tuesday, with interviews with employees supposedly indicating the brand push was more important than helping customers.

    Angela Ahrendts


    A series of interviews with current and former Apple employees about the current store experience, most recently formed under the stewardship of former retail chief Angela Ahrendts, is said to blame a number of areas for supposed dissatisfaction from some consumers. A change in store culture and a slip in the quality of staff during an aggressive expansion are cited as the main reasons for the customer unhappiness.

    In a move to end lineups, turn stores into luxury showrooms, and create "town squares" where people could "spend time with the brand," Ahrendts axed Genius Bars in favor of a mix of roaming Geniuses as well as Genius Groves and tables, reports Bloomberg. Checkout counters were likewise swapped with roaming clerks, which the report claims created problems, since shoppers started having trouble getting the right person's attention in speedy fashion.

    Customers were increasingly encouraged to schedule pickups and appointments online, and must now check in with a clerk. Once a Genius is free, that staffer then has to track down the customer, who's likely to be wandering the store while they wait. Even then they frequently have to take a broken device into a back room, losing the personal touch that came from working at a counter in front of a client.

    Ahrendts also did away with paid one-on-one training in favor of free group sessions, which while better attended can be held back by the slowest learner, several workers said.

    The quality of staff allegedly declined under Ahrendts' watch, even if she didn't instigate the issue.

    "Employees used to be very skilled," one worker commented. "When you came to Apple, you could walk in and talk to someone who happens to be a musician or videographer on the side, really knowledgeable. They hire really nice people now, but they are much less technical."

    More critically, staffers are getting less training -- while original retail head Ron Johnson saw that salespeople got three weeks to a month, that time has shrunk to about a week in most cases. Geniuses were originally trained at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino but are now usually taught in-store.

    Apple has actually been shifting away from the luxury showroom motif since before Ahrendts' departure, Bloomberg observed. This includes putting up promotional stickers and posters, which can break Ahrendts' fashion-themed atmosphere.

    The retail chain is now being overseen by Deirdre O'Brien, who is also retaining her role as HR chief. It's speculated that she could reverse or alter some of Ahrendts' policies, though she's had a month or less at the helm.

  • Reply 32 of 89
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 160member
    i said from the onset that angela was an overpaid mistake....glad she is gone...sorry she took a chunk of dividend money,,,my her legacy go fast to the grave.
  • Reply 33 of 89
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 160member
    lkrupp said:
    Oh here we go again. Apple is the ONLY, repeat, ONLY tech company where a customer can walk into their store and get service on their devices, get questions answered, make purchases and this thread has already been hijacked by the perpetually bitching crowd that hammers away at anything Apple. Fire Cook, fire Ahrendts, fire Federighi, fire Schiller, fire ‘em all!
     
    1. When very crowded, my local store had a stale air smell in it (better ventilation system?). 

    2. -- Poorly trained staff:  "Ask five people -- get five different answers
    -- An emphasis on sales over service
    -- Being pushed to make online appointments for service -- which the Apple store essentially ignored (You got treated the same whether you had an appointment or just walked in)

    3. Spent 25 minutes with a friend trying to buy
    iPhone a month or so ago. Waiting for someone to serve us. 

    4. Apple stores used to be a fun destination/experience - I hope it returns to that with the new VP!

    5.  My belief is that Steve would have never allowed AA within a 100 yards of an Apple employment line.

    6. I agree with the majority here, and have been carping on this for years here.

    What a load of unadulterated bullshit. What must it be like to go through life bitching about everything, never satisfied, always disappointed, always negative and throwing shade on everything and everybody. 
    Seek therapy post haste.  My own and those of many of my friends, all loyal apple customers with well over $300,000 of purchased apple product have been highly displeased with the store experience under angela. I have never been oriented towards being grateful for crumbs..a first class experience is a first class experience.  One that is anything less is in fact less.  There are doubtless some merchandise at macy’s that one can find at Bergdorf Goodman but you (well perhaps not you) go to Bergdorf for an environment, an experience and staff you can’t find in macy’s.  What must it be like to go through life happy for whatever is served.   Some of us were not only born to better but achieved better.  Now go be happy at your local walmart.

    GeorgeBMacchemenginelijahg
  • Reply 34 of 89
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    dysamoria said:
    I’m not sure an HR head is the right person for the job. Two jobs instead of one, plus very different jobs, plus HR sucks at people (since they tend to treat people like a commodity)...
    From my experience, Apple had a people problem:   Poor training and some non-Apple-like attitudes.  Plus, with Apple shifting emphasis on product sales to products & services (again, staff oriented stuff), HR is often called in.   Plus, this is an experienced Apple person.
  • Reply 35 of 89
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,649member
    I'm not really surprised, the Apple brand is exceptionally strong, it and Apple's products stand by themselves. Historically the brand hasn't needed pushing; the advantages of Apple are real and tangible. Everyone knows who Apple is. Burberry on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. It's in Burberry's interests to get their name out there and to be seen to be premium, as unlike Apple, their business really revolves around the brand itself. Therefore, people need to be persuaded and pushed to be ripped off fork out way over the odds primarily for the Burberry name, when unlike Apple's gear, their clothing really isn't much better than average. 
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 36 of 89
    joedaman8338joedaman8338 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I think the Genius Bar is what really set apart the Apple Store previously. The one-to-one interaction, seeing the work done in front of you, the banter about your current gadgets, etc. The new design with uncomfortable stool type seating is not only tough for your back....but I don't know about you...seeing a genius balancing my iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc. on his lap, while he types into his iPad just drives me insane.
    asdasdGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 37 of 89
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    I feel it’s time for Apple to bring in a person who is willing to shake up Apple from the inside again, like Jobs. Tim is more concerned with keeping the ship sailing on smooth waters, which is a perfectly admirable quality, but it won’t lead to radical changes or product breakthroughs.
    asdasdmacpluspluselijahg
  • Reply 38 of 89
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,006member
    JWSC said:
    sflocal said:
    JWSC said:
    doctwelve said:
    Made an appointment, having to choose the "least inconvenient" time for me that was available. Waited for my genius. Someone walked in and asked to see a genius and was seen to before me. While waiting, I saw a younger "genius" lose their patience with an older woman who had an iPhone issue and didn't understand the fix. The genius said, "I explained it already, I am done with you..." and walked away. Not the Apple I love. 
    If true, that is behavior worthy of termination.  If I were a supervisor I’d have a conversation with that employee and explain it as such.  The employee would be given one warning.  A second time and they’re gone.

    I would also reach out to the elderly customer, apologize profusely and do whatever it took to make amends.  That kind of reputation can kill the brand.
    I agree.  If I saw that behavior - even on someone else - I'd say something.  Poor customer.  I've dealt with high-maintenance customers in my experience and there are better ways to discuss this. 

    While the genius' behavior was inexcusable, there may have been another reason for cutting the conversation short.  I have a cousin that used to work for Apple and they have a very strict policy against spending too much time on one customer.  I don't recall the exact time limit but it was something like 6-15 minutes max.  Go over that limit, and the potential for being fired becomes real.  My cousin always spent that extra few minutes to help customers and make sure they left happy and serviced, but Apple saw it differently and let him go.  It was quite sad as he is gifted technically and is very good at talking to people and having the patience and calmness to work with older/elder individuals.  At that point I knew something about Apple has changed, and it wasn't good.

    Did that happen under John Browett?  I’m guessing not because he was there for a short time only.  But just it doesn’t seem like a good thing.  Got to be a better way to handle a lot of customers because there’s only going to be more and more coming in.
    No.  It happened last year.  It really was Apple's loss.  I can understand having to finish quickly to move the queue along but being penalized for cleanly wrapping up a customer's problem and having them leave happy is just wrong.  
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 39 of 89
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    I think the Genius Bar is what really set apart the Apple Store previously. The one-to-one interaction, seeing the work done in front of you, the banter about your current gadgets, etc. The new design with uncomfortable stool type seating is not only tough for your back....but I don't know about you...seeing a genius balancing my iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc. on his lap, while he types into his iPad just drives me insane.
    "I think the Genius Bar is what really set apart the Apple Store previously."

    I agree. This along with the One-to-One sessions to help you get the most out of your devices
    GeorgeBMacrobbyx
  • Reply 40 of 89
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,686member
    lkrupp said:
    Oh here we go again. Apple is the ONLY, repeat, ONLY tech company where a customer can walk into their store and get service on their devices, get questions answered, make purchases and this thread has already been hijacked by the perpetually bitching crowd that hammers away at anything Apple. Fire Cook, fire Ahrendts, fire Federighi, fire Schiller, fire ‘em all!
     
    1. When very crowded, my local store had a stale air smell in it (better ventilation system?). 

    2. -- Poorly trained staff:  "Ask five people -- get five different answers
    -- An emphasis on sales over service
    -- Being pushed to make online appointments for service -- which the Apple store essentially ignored (You got treated the same whether you had an appointment or just walked in)

    3. Spent 25 minutes with a friend trying to buy
    iPhone a month or so ago. Waiting for someone to serve us. 

    4. Apple stores used to be a fun destination/experience - I hope it returns to that with the new VP!

    5.  My belief is that Steve would have never allowed AA within a 100 yards of an Apple employment line.

    6. I agree with the majority here, and have been carping on this for years here.

    What a load of unadulterated bullshit. What must it be like to go through life bitching about everything, never satisfied, always disappointed, always negative and throwing shade on everything and everybody. 
    What must it be like spending your entire online presence being so defensive about a multi billion dollar company you get angry about genuine problems people have? 

    All of those reports are from people who visited the stores, ie Apple customers. They have problems. They are explaining their problems. 

    The customer base of Apple ultra fandom for Apple is probably just you and a few others. They sell to hundreds of millions, some will have problems. If Apple depended on its ultra fan base who thinknit can do no wrong it would collapse. 
    chemenginelijahgGeorgeBMacmacgui
Sign In or Register to comment.